Ephesus Sets Standard for Stadium Lighting With LED Installation in Arizona

The Super Bowl is traditionally the year’s most watched television event. Regardless of who wins this year, millions of viewers are going to see the big game in a whole new light. That’s thanks to Ephesus Lighting, which has replaced all the traditional metal halide lights at University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL Arizona Cardinals, with its LED lighting system.

“The capabilities of the Ephesus LED technology have changed the way people view sports lighting,” says Ephesus Lighting founder and Chief Technology Officer Joe Casper.

This bold step forward will shine a spotlight on a leading edge technology that enhances visibility for the players and the fans, while providing breathtaking new details for broadcasters and their viewing audiences. It also saves money for the stadium by reducing energy bills.

Ephesus Lighting broke new ground as the first LED company to light a professional sports arena in North America in 2012; Ephesus manufactures the brightest LED in the industry and is the only stadium-designed lighting listed under Design Light Consortium’s (DLC) quality, performance and energy efficiency requirements. This certification, much like Energy Star on residential products, enables buildings to receive energy incentives from utility providers.

“LED lighting is the new standard,” says Bill Brennan, an independent lighting designer and director who has worked with and consulted for NBC, ESPN and Turner Sports, among others. “There is no turning back and there is no doubt.”

The University of Phoenix Stadium had required 780 metal halide fixtures to generate 148 foot candles of light, which was not nearly enough for high quality HDTV broadcasts. Ephesus installed only 312 Ephesus Stadium Pro fixtures, each fixture individually controlled to maximize flexibility in lighting effects. The Ephesus LED fixtures maintain 277 foot candles of light on the playing surface. And it will do so while reducing system wattage by 929 Kilo-watts for a projected energy savings of 75%.

Lighting has, of course, come a long way, but  brightening up an arena still takes its toll, with metal halide lights that generate heat and big bills as they burn out, while leaving dark spots, shadows and glare that create problems for the players, the fans and the broadcasters. Now, however, advances in LED lighting have utterly changed the equation.

“When we went into the sports LED lighting business we wanted to focus on three attributes,” says Casper. “We wanted to improve player performance, give the fans at home and at the game a better experience, and reduce energy usage. We have achieved all three.”

The unprecedented quality of light that Ephesus will deliver at the 2015 Super Bowl is a real game changer. The highly focused beams of light generated with LED creates a more uniformly lit field.  If a wide receiver is trying to catch a football in a non-uniform field, the football will appear to speed up and slow down as it travels through the shadows. With LED technology, engineers can carefully model the light on the field creating quality, uniformity, and precise focusing of light that reduces shadow and glare so much it ultimately makes the objects look like they are in a studio. “The 2015 Super-Bowl will absolutely set a new standard for players and spectators,” Casper says.

Engineers also set up full range spectrum analyzers to measure the potential electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated in the stadium from the old lights as a benchmark to the improved LED system.  The reduced EMI in the stadium ensures that the LED lighting and control system did not impact WiFi or wireless audio from sideline coaches and referees.  This is vital with more stadiums and arenas seeking to increase the WiFi bandwidth to improve fan experience.

The increased level of light, the departure of glare, the elimination of unwanted shadows, and the improved uniformity will enable fans at the stadium and at home to see more than they ever have before. With traditional metal halide light, broadcasters need to keep adjusting the camera’s aperture and open as wide as possible to let enough light in. This limits HDTV capability.  With Ephesus showing the way, NBC will be able to reduce the aperture size, and thus increase the focal plane providing more depth of field and more detail. Additionally, viewers will no longer be bothered by those blurry images when the cameras try zooming in or show a slow motion replay.

Casper explains that sunlight represents the ideal light for humans. “We are built to react to sunlight,” he says. “Heating a filament in a traditional light bulb can only reproduce a small portion of those properties of the sun.  However, the Ephesus LED lighting technology comes closer than any other technology in attaining the properties of natural sunlight.  If the lighting director of a television broadcast feels the color on the field seems too yellow or not blue enough he or she can easily shift the color tones to make it look natural, however, that will also unnaturally shift the colors in the uniforms and face tones. “We help find the true color,” Casper says. “We can take an indoor environment and make it look like they’re playing outside.”

Broadcasters can now easily adjust the “feel” of a game, something which viewers might not consciously notice but which is vital nonetheless.  “The NBA likes the feel of warm color temperatures and the NHL likes the feel of a colder temperature.  With the Ephesus color-tuning LED system, an NBA and NHL team in the same stadium can share the same lighting system by switching the color temperature of the fixtures with a push of a button on the Ephesus controller,” Casper says. “We can also create different lighting scenes for any sport, each with unique lighting requirements, because each light is individually controlled.”

This Super Bowl will one day soon be seen as a turning point in American sports, the moment when broadcasters and stadium operators alike saw the benefits of LED lighting, pioneered by Ephesus.

“Every new stadium and arena built will have LED lighting,” Casper states, adding that Ephesus is already in discussions about several new stadiums and arenas being constructed. “And in the next five years I believe that at least fifty percent of the existing stadiums and arenas will also convert over to LED lighting. LED is the future and the future is here.”

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